38. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Public Understanding of your Foreign Policy

I had a useful session today with Pat Caddell, who shared with me some very interesting findings regarding the public perception of your foreign policy. While that perception is generally very good, and on some issues excellent, there are also hints of latent concerns and the absence of understanding of your broader purposes.

Accordingly, you might want to consider, and later discuss with Pat, a two-pronged strategy:

1. A conceptual speech deliberately designed for an elite audience, and leading to serious discussion by commentators; such a speech would be designed to pull together the various strands of your foreign policy and also to share your historical vision. It would be a formal statement, integrating in a single comprehensive speech some of the [Page 101] themes developed earlier in your OAS speech,2 the UN speech,3 and the campaign speech in New York before the Foreign Policy Association.4

2. Roughly two days later—so that the initial impact of the formal speech is not dissipated—a town hall meeting on foreign affairs, deliberately designed to appeal to the common man and held in a setting where the audience is likely to be sympathetic to your foreign policy approach. Televised, such a meeting could be very helpful in translating to the broader public what you are trying to do and it would build on the previous formal presentation.

The two together would pack potentially a powerful wallop and could have an important effect not only domestically but also abroad.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, Outside the System File, Box 47, Chron: 4/77. No classification marking. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that Carter saw it. Carter wrote in the top right hand corner: Zbig Good idea to explore. J.” Hutchenson sent a copy of the memorandum to Mondale, Brzezinski, Costanza, Eizenstat, Jordan, Powell, Fallows, and Schneiders under an April 19 typewritten note, indicating that Brzezinski’s memorandum was returned in Carter’s outbox. (Carter Library, Staff Office Files, Domestic Policy Staff, Eizenstat Files, Box 208, Foreign Affairs—(General), [CF, O/A 47] [1])
  2. The President’s April 14 address to the Organization of American States, delivered at the Pan American Union, is printed in Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 611–616. It is also printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 33.
  3. See footnote 4, Document 21.
  4. Carter’s June 23, 1976, address, entitled “Relation Between World’s Democracies” is printed in The Presidential Campaign 1976, vol. I, part I: Jimmy Carter , pp. 266–275. It is also printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. I, Foundations of Foreign Policy, Document 6.